17th June, 2021.
Our attention has been drawn to a poorly worded and pedestrian statement issued by Alhaji Garba Shehu on behalf of Mr President in response to the patriotic and weighty issues of state raised by the PDP Governors’ Forum (PDP-GF) in their Communique after meeting.
- The statement betrays the abysmal ignorance, lack of appreciation of the issues raised in the PDP Communique.
It is unbelievable that such low quality response could come from Nigeria’s seat of power.
- He celebrates the non remittance of funds by NNPC to the Federation Account because they should not “break the bank” for PDP Governors. What a pity!
The duty and responsibility of NNPC to pay revenues into the Federation Account is not a matter of discretion by NNPC. It is an imposition of law.
4 The constitutional provisions on Public Revenue is clear. Section 162. (1) of the Constitution says: “The Federation shall maintain a special account to be called “the Federation Account” into which shall be paid all revenues collected by the Government of the Federation, except the proceeds from the personal income tax of the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force, the Ministry or Department of Government charged with responsibility for Foreign Affairs and the residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
S.162(1), defines Revenue thus: “For the purpose of subsection (1) of this section, “revenue” means any income or return accruing to or derived by the Government of the Federation from any source and includes –
(a) any receipt, however described, arising from the operation of any law;
(b) any return, however described, arising from or in respect of any property held by the Government of the Federation;
(c) any return by way of interest on loans and dividends in respect of shares or interest held by the Government of the Federation in any company or statutory body.”
It is a demonstration of impunity and gross abuse of law for NNPC to continue to disregard the unmistakable mandatory constitutional provisions above. It is even more shocking for the PRESIDENCY as an institution to embody the desecration of our Constitution in such a flippant, brazen and unserious manner as portrayed by the presidential spokesman.
- NNPC and other Revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government have mandatory obligations to pay into the Federation Account all its revenue after deducting legitimate cost of operations. Fuel subsidy or other profligate expenditures are not part of the cost of production. When NNPC makes its contributions to the Federation Account, the Federal Governments share in the Federation Account can be spent by it in a manner it desires. NNPC cannot spend money belonging to the other tiers of government for them.This is the way the Constitution is designed by its authors. Mr President cannot change the Constitution at his pleasure. Perhaps these matters are too complex for Garba Shehu to comprehend!
6 The States and Local Governments in Nigeria bear the brunt of education, health care, water, food production, infrastructure such as roads, and increasingly the security of lives and property among others. The States and Local Governments share of the Federation Account does not belong to Governors. Certainly not to PDP Governors. The case made by the PDP Governors Communique concerns all the States and Local Governments in Nigeria, not only PDP.
- Garba Shehu celebrates the fact that Naira is now over N500 to a Dollar in the parallel market. If his statement represents the thinking of the APC Federal Government, then we are in more trouble than we think. The implication of the fall of the Naira for cost of goods and services, including the price of food and basic needs of Nigerians is becoming unbearable for the average Nigerian. It has made even the recent minimum wage increases almost useless. But of course, those ensconced in the Presidential villa do not feel it.
- On the issue of Mining, it is once again a demonstration of abysmal ignorance not to know at the presidential level that mining is on the Exclusive Legislative List of the Federal Government. The PDP Governors were merely asking for better coordination with State Governments who administer the land under the Land Use Act.
- Perhaps the most insensitive is on the issue of Twitter suspension. How can a presidential spokesman be so tone deaf. He is unable to see the grave assault of Freedom of speech embodied therein. He doesn’t see the need to motivate our youths. He trivialises serious matters of state. It is very unfortunate.
- He repeats his assault on the sensibility of Nigerians in the way he addresses the Herder – Farmers conflict. Calling the legitimate request for ramping up ranching as a denial of the right of Nigerians to live and work anywhere in Nigeria, is perhaps the most illogical of the entire response.
- On Local Government, the President has not initiated a single legislation or amendment of the Constitution to make it a real third tier of Government, if the APC government so desires. He only flexes muscles with State Governments by issuing unconstitutional Orders through Federal Government Agencies.
- There is no doubt that President Buhari’s spokespersons are his greatest undoing as a President. They do not represent or position him well.
- The PDP Governors’ Forum Communique in Uyo was patriotic, well thought out and offered solutions to the miriad of problems facing the nation. Mr President and the APC led Federal Government should listen.
Hon C.I.D. Maduabum, LL.M,
PDP Governors’ Forum